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IN THE POOL OF QUEBEC.
A singular colony it was of which the shipwrecked party found themselves now to be members. The _St. Christophe_ had left Rochelle three weeks before with four small consorts conveying five hundred soldiers to help the struggling colony on the St. Lawrence. The squadron had become separated, however, and the governor was pursuing his way alone in the hope of picking up the others in the river. Aboard he had a company of the regiment of Quercy, the staff of his own household, Saint Vallier, the new Bishop of Canada, with several of his attendants, three Recollet friars, and five Jesuits bound for the fatal Iroquois mission, half-a-dozen ladies on their way out to join their husbands, two Ursuline nuns, ten or twelve gallants whom love of adventure and the hope of bettering their fortunes had drawn across the seas, and lastly some twenty peasant maidens of Anjou who were secure of finding husbands waiting for them upon the beach, if only for the sake of the sheets, the pot, the tin plates and the kettle which the king would provide for each of his humble wards.
To add a handful of New England Independents, a Puritan of Boston, and three Huguenots to such a gathering, was indeed to bring fire-brand and powder-barrel together. And yet all aboard were so busy with their own concerns that the castaways were left very much to themselves. Thirty of the soldiers were down with fever and scurvy, and both priests and nuns were fully taken up in nursing them. Denonville, the governor, a pious-minded dragoon, walked the deck all day reading the Psalms of David, and sat up half the night with maps and charts laid out before him, planning out the destruction of the Iroquois who were ravaging his dominions. The gallants and the ladies flirted, the maidens of Anjou made eyes at the soldiers of Quercy, and the bishop Saint Vallier read his offices and lectured his clergy. Ephraim Savage used to stand all day glaring at the good man as he paced the deck with his red-edged missal in his hand, and muttering about the "abomination of desolation," but his little ways were put down to his exposure upon the iceberg, and to the fixed idea in the French mind that men of the Anglo-Saxon stock are not to be held accountable for their actions.
There was peace between England and France at present, though feeling ran high between Canada and New York, the French believing, and with some justice, that the English colonists were whooping on the demons who attacked them. Ephraim and his men were therefore received hospitably on board, though the ship was so crowded that they had to sleep wherever they could find cover and space for their bodies. The Catinats, too, had been treated in an even more kindly fashion, the weak old man and the beauty of his daughter arousing the interest of the governor himself. De Catinat had, during the voyage, exchanged his uniform for a plain sombre suit, so that, except for his military bearing, there was nothing to show that he was a fugitive from the army. Old Catinat was now so weak that he was past the answering of questions, his daughter was forever at his side, and the soldier was diplomatist enough, after a training at Versailles, to say much without saying anything, and so their secret was still preserved. De Catinat had known what it was to be a Huguenot in Canada before the law was altered. He had no wish to try it after.
On the day after the rescue they sighted Cape Breton in the south, and soon running swiftly before an easterly wind, saw the loom of the east end of Anticosti. Then they sailed up the mighty river, though from mid-channel the banks upon either side were hardly to be seen. As the shores narrowed in, they saw the wild gorge of the Saguenay River upon the right, with the smoke from the little fishing and trading station of Tadousac streaming up above the pine trees. Naked Indians with their faces daubed with red clay, Algonquins and Abenakis, clustered round the ship in their birchen canoes with fruit and vegetables from the land, which brought fresh life to the scurvy-stricken soldiers. Thence the ship tacked on up the river past Mal Bay, the Ravine of the Eboulements and the Bay of St. Paul with its broad valley and wooded mountains all in a blaze with their beautiful autumn dress, their scarlets, their purples, and their golds, from the maple, the ash, the young oak, and the saplings of the birch. Amos Green, leaning on the bulwarks, stared with longing eyes at these vast expanses of virgin woodland, hardly traversed save by an occasional wandering savage or hardy _coureur-de-bois_. Then the bold outline of Cape Tourmente loomed up in front of them; they passed the rich placid meadows of Laval's seigneury of Beaupre, and, skirting the settlements of the Island of Orleans, they saw the broad pool stretch out in front of them, the falls of Montmorenci, the high palisades of Cape Levi, the cluster of vessels, and upon the right that wonderful rock with its diadem of towers and its township huddled round its base, the centre and stronghold of French power in America. Cannon thundered from the bastions above, and were echoed back by the warship, while ensigns dipped, hats waved, and a swarm of boats and canoes shot out to welcome the new governor, and to convey the soldiers and passengers to shore.
The old merchant had pined away since he had left French soil, like a plant which has been plucked from its roots. The shock of the shipwreck and the night spent in their bleak refuge upon the iceberg had been too much for his years and strength. Since they had been picked up he had lain amid the scurvy-stricken soldiers with hardly a sign of life save for his thin breathing and the twitching of his scraggy throat. Now, however, at the sound of the cannon and the shouting he opened his eyes, and raised himself slowly and painfully upon his pillow. "What is it, father? What can we do for you?" cried Adele. "We are in America, and here is Amory and here am I, your children."
But the old man shook his head. "The Lord has brought me to the promised land, but He has not willed that I should enter into it," said he. "May His will be done, and blessed be His name forever! But at least I should wish, like Moses, to gaze upon it, if I cannot set foot upon it. Think you, Amory, that you could lend me your arm and lead me on to the deck?"
"If I have another to help me," said De Catinat, and ascending to the deck, he brought Amos Green back with him. "Now, father, if you will lay a hand upon the shoulder of each, you need scarce put your feet to the boards."
A minute later the old merchant was on the deck, and the two young men had seated him upon a coil of rope with his back against the mast, where he should be away from the crush. The soldiers were already crowding down into the boats, and all were so busy over their own affairs that they paid no heed to the little group of refugees who gathered round the stricken man. He turned his head painfully from side to side, but his eyes brightened as they fell upon the broad blue stretch of water, the flash of the distant falls, the high castle, and the long line of purple mountains away to the north-west.
"It is not like France," said he. "It is not green and peaceful and smiling, but it is grand and strong and stern like Him who made it. As I have weakened, Adele, my soul has been less clogged by my body, and I have seen clearly much that has been dim to me. And it has seemed to me, my children, that all this country of America, not Canada alone, but the land where you were born also, Amos Green, and all that stretches away towards yonder setting sun, will be the best gift of God to man. For this has He held it concealed through all the ages, that now His own high purpose may be wrought upon it. For here is a land which is innocent, which has no past guilt to atone for, no feud, nor ill custom, nor evil of any kind. And as the years roll on all the weary and homeless ones, all who are stricken and landless and wronged, will turn their faces to it, even as we have done. And hence will come a nation which will surely take all that is good and leave all that is bad, moulding and fashioning itself into the highest. Do I not see such a mighty people, a people who will care more to raise their lowest than to exalt their richest--who will understand that there is more bravery in peace than in war, who will see that all men are brothers, and whose hearts will not narrow themselves down to their own frontiers, but will warm in sympathy with every noble cause the whole world through? That is what I see, Adele, as I lie here beside a shore upon which I shall never set my feet, and I say to you that if you and Amory go to the building of such a nation then indeed your lives are not misspent. It will come, and when it comes, may God guard it, may God watch over it and direct it!" His head had sunk gradually lower upon his breast and his lids had fallen slowly over his eyes which had been looking away out past Point Levi at the rolling woods and the far-off mountains. Adele gave a quick cry of despair and threw her arms round the old man's neck.
"He is dying, Amory, he is dying!" she cried.
A stern Franciscan friar, who had been telling his beads within a few paces of them, heard the cry and was beside them in an instant.
"He is indeed dying," he said, as he gazed down at the ashen face. "Has the old man had the sacraments of the Church?"
"I do not think that he needs them," answered De Catinat evasively.
"Which of us do not need them, young man!" said the friar sternly. "And how can a man hope for salvation without them? I shall myself administer them without delay."
But the old Huguenot had opened his eyes, and with a last flicker of strength he pushed away the gray-hooded figure which bent over him.
"I left all that I love rather than yield to you," he cried, "and think you that you can overcome me now?"
The Franciscan started back at the words, and his hard suspicious eyes shot from De Catinat to the weeping girl.
"So!" said he. "You are Huguenots, then!"
"Hush! Do not wrangle before a man who is dying!" cried De Catinat in a voice as fierce as his own.
"Before a man who is dead," said Amos Green solemnly.
As he spoke the old man's face had relaxed, his thousand wrinkles had been smoothed suddenly out, as though an invisible hand had passed over them, and his head fell back against the mast. Adele remained motionless with her arms still clasped round his neck and her cheek pressed against his shoulder. She had fainted.
De Catinat raised his wife and bore her down to the cabin of one of the ladies who had already shown them some kindness. Deaths were no new thing aboard the ship, for they had lost ten soldiers upon the outward passage, so that amid the joy and bustle of the disembarking there were few who had a thought to spare upon the dead pilgrim, and the less so when it was whispered abroad that he had been a Huguenot. A brief order was given that he should be buried in the river that very night, and then, save for a sailmaker who fastened the canvas round him, mankind had done its last for Theophile Catinat. With the survivors, however, it was different, and when the troops were all disembarked, they were mustered in a little group upon the deck, and an officer of the governor's suite decided upon what should be done with them. He was a portly, good-humoured, ruddy-cheeked man, but De Catinat saw with apprehension that the friar walked by his side as he advanced along the deck, and exchanged a few whispered remarks with him. There was a bitter smile upon the monk's dark face which boded little good for the heretics.
"It shall be seen to, good father, it shall be seen to," said the officer impatiently, in answer to one of these whispered injunctions. "I am as zealous a servant of Holy Church as you are."
"I trust that you are, Monsieur de Bonneville. With so devout a governor as Monsieur de Denonville, it might be an ill thing even in this world for the officers of his household to be lax."
The soldier glanced angrily at his companion, for he saw the threat which lurked under the words.
"I would have you remember, father," said he, "that if faith is a virtue, charity is no less so." Then, speaking in English: "Which is Captain Savage?"
"Ephraim Savage of Boston."
"And Master Amos Green?"
"Amos Green of New York."
"And Master Tomlinson?"
"John Tomlinson of Salem."
"And master mariners Hiram Jefferson, Joseph Cooper, Seek-grace Spalding, and Paul Cushing, all of Massachusetts Bay?"
"We are all here."
"It is the governor's order that all whom I have named shall be conveyed at once to the trading brig _Hope_, which is yonder ship with the white paint line. She sails within the hour for the English provinces."
A buzz of joy broke from the castaway mariners at the prospect of being so speedily restored to their homes, and they hurried away to gather together the few possessions which they had saved from the wreck. The officer put his list in his pocket and stepped across to where De Catinat leaned moodily against the bulwarks.
"Surely you remember me," he said. "I could not forget your face, even though you have exchanged a blue coat for a black one."
De Catinat grasped the hand which was held out to him.
"I remember you well, De Bonneville, and the journey that we made together to Fort Frontenac, but it was not for me to claim your friendship, now that things have gone amiss with me."
"Tut, man; once my friend always my friend."
"I feared, too, that my acquaintance would do you little good with yonder dark-cowled friar who is glowering behind you."
"Well, well, you know how it is with us here. Frontenac could keep them in their place, but De la Barre was as clay in their hands, and this new one promises to follow in his steps. What with the Sulpitians at Montreal and the Jesuits here, we poor devils are between the upper and the nether stones. But I am grieved from my heart to give such a welcome as this to an old comrade, and still more to his wife."
"What is to be done, then?"
"You are to be confined to the ship until she sails, which will be in a week at the furthest."
"You are to be carried home in her and handed over to the Governor of Rochelle to be sent back to Paris. Those are Monsieur de Denonville's orders, and if they be not carried out to the letter, then we shall have the whole hornet's nest about our ears."
De Catinat groaned as he listened. After all their strivings and trials and efforts, to return to Paris, the scorn of his enemies, and an object of pity to his friends, was too deep a humiliation. He flushed with shame at the very thought. To be led back like the home-sick peasant who has deserted from his regiment! Better one spring into the broad blue river beneath him, were it not for little pale-faced Adele who had none but him to look to. It was so tame! So ignominious! And yet in this floating prison, with a woman whose fate was linked with his own, what hope was there of escape?
De Bonneville had left him, with a few blunt words of sympathy, but the friar still paced the deck with a furtive glance at him from time to time, and two soldiers who were stationed upon the poop passed and repassed within a few yards of him. They had orders evidently to mark his movements. Heart-sick he leaned over the side watching the Indians in their paint and feathers shooting backwards and forwards in their canoes, and staring across at the town where the gaunt gable ends of houses and charred walls marked the effect of the terrible fire which a few years before had completely destroyed the lower part.
As he stood gazing, his attention was drawn away by the swish of oars, and a large boat full of men passed immediately underneath where he stood.
It held the New Englanders, who were being conveyed to the ship which was to take them home. There were the four seamen huddled together, and there in the sheets were Captain Ephraim Savage and Amos Green, conversing together and pointing to the shipping. The grizzled face of the old Puritan and the bold features of the woodsman were turned more than once in his direction, but no word of farewell and no kindly wave of the hand came back to the lonely exile. They were so full of their own future and their own happiness, that they had not a thought to spare upon his misery. He could have borne anything from his enemies, but this sudden neglect from his friends came too heavily after his other troubles. He stooped his face to his arms and burst in an instant into a passion of sobs. Before he raised his eyes again the brig had hoisted her anchor, and was tacking under full canvas out of the Quebec basin.
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